Fly fishing: Mission to get one over a rainbow

TOWARD the latter part of 2015 I spent a marvellous few weeks in New Zealand. This was a family holiday but I did find time to spend on the riverbank. Oh no! you might say, not another tale about fishing in areas you can only dream of going to. This is a tale applicable to anywhere in the UK.

A heavy fly which had been recommended whilst out on a fishing trip in New Zealand.

I found a stretch of water on the Waipa River just below Tao Bridge, six miles east of Otorohanga on North Island. Just like any stretch of water in Yorkshire it had rapids, pools and streamy stretches, just as I like it.

Whilst tackling up at the car I was approached by the farmer who owned the land I had to cross to reach the river. Enquiring as to what I intended to do, which to me was obvious, he asked me where I was from.

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“England, well Yorkshire actually,” I told him.

“Well that’s okay then,” he replied. “Had you been local or an Aussie I would have asked you to move on.”

Without going into too much detail it has something to do with a fallout between the landowners and the New Zealand Fishery Board.

As many folk do in New Zealand I donned my sandals, shorts and hat - no need for waders and boots, it was too hot - and I set off, rods in hand, to search for those renowned rainbow and brown trout.

If one ignored the palms and ferns the river and the surroundings were exactly like any Dales river.

I fished for a couple of hours using my usual methods, with some success, catching small rainbows but I was sure there were better fish to be had particularly in a pool with fairly fast flowing water which I had fished through once.

Feeling a little exasperated, I decided to sit on the bank side, have a cup of coffee and have a think about tactics. It was at that time I was joined by a family of piglets, who wandered aimlessly past me and settled down in the shallow water just above my intended spot.

The penny then dropped that I wasn’t, of course, in Yorkshire at all - I’ve fished with herons, kingfishers, otters and mink for company, but never pigs.

Just before I had left on the plane, Brian at Tenkara Centre UK had called and informed me he had launched a new rod, which was beefier and just right for big fish. He had sent me one in the post to try in New Zealand. Being a Tenkara rod it was light, small and easy to pack so a no-brainer.

So back on the riverbank, away went the traditional rod and out came the Honryu Tenkara rod. Now normally I fish with about three feet of tippet, that’s the bit of “invisible” material between the line and the fly, but I decided, in view of the water depth, I would put on six feet of tippet to get a bit deeper.

On went a heavy fly which had been recommended to me by a local, and out to water I went trying not to disturb the piglet family.

First cast nothing, second cast nothing, on the third cast - sugar! I had snagged the bottom and then the line moved slightly upstream, so I lifted the rod and then all hell broke loose.

Upstream went the fish, then downstream, a few mighty leaps in the air, then upstream again. Ten minutes the rainbow fought, ten minutes the rod held out against one of the biggest fish I had ever caught on a river.

Finally the fish was landed, a beautiful 3lb wild rainbow, the first fish caught on a Honryu rod in New Zealand and the piglets were not impressed at all.

Perhaps they thought I was trying to hog the limelight, sorry...